Haiti

Rotarians respond to earthquake in Haiti

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Rotarians are gearing up to deliver aid to areas of Haiti rocked by a powerful earthquake 12 January as a major international relief effort takes shape.

Thousands of people are feared dead after the quake, the impoverished nation's strongest in 200 years, crumbled government buildings, hospitals, schools, and shantytowns. Most of the capital, Port-au-Prince, is in ruins.

"Rotarians are working hard and fast to get help to those in Haiti," says Past RI Director Barry Rassin, of Nassau, Bahamas, who has previously coordinated relief efforts in the country. "We're at the same time working on long-term efforts."

More than US$75,000 has been donated to District 7020 in the Caribbean, according to Past District Governor Dick McCombe. The district will be coordinating much of the Rotarian relief effort through its Haiti Task Force, set up two years ago to administer all financial aid to the nation.

To learn how you can help, e-mail District Governor Errol Alberga or visit the District 7020 website.

A six-member team of Rotarians from District 5890 (Texas, USA) have reported in safe after landing in Haiti for a humanitarian mission 45 minutes before the quake struck. They were scheduled to be there a week but will likely return early.

ShelterBox has dispatched about 500 containers of supplies to the affected area. A ShelterBox response team is being mobilized, with two members from the United States and one from the United Kingdom. Also, more than 100 Aquaboxes are being delivered to Haiti to provide safe water.

"We were in Haiti 18 months ago, delivering aid after a series of hurricanes left thousands homeless," said Lasse Petersen, general manager for ShelterBox. "We'll now be working closely with our contacts on the ground in the country to make sure we get aid to the people who need it most during the current crisis."

The Rotary Foundation will be establishing a donor advised fund for U.S. Rotarians who want to donate to help with long-term recovery.

RI President John Kenny and Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair Glenn E. Estess Sr. have sent a joint letter conveying Rotary's condolences to victims of the quake and asking for more information on how Rotarians can help.

Follow updates on the Haitian earthquake on the RI website.